Their technology is based on “micro-RNA,” which according to the talk, was only discovered in 1993. It wasn’t until 2008 that scientists inferred that micro-RNA in the blood could indicate cell damage. For example, it is now known that micro-RNA-1 is associated with heart damage.
The Miroculus technology uses only 1 mL of a patients blood split into 96 wells on a lab plate. Each well in the plate has a different biochemical agent that is engineered to react with a specific micro-RNA type. The plate is then placed into an incubator where it is heated and illuminated. An app running on a smartphone will take digital photographs at regular intervals and analyze them against a remote database for results in 60 minutes.
According to the talk, the technology has been used to successfully identify the micro-RNA pattern for breast, pancreatic, lung and hepatic (liver) cancer.
The NPR podcast is available transcribed here.
Another great article on the project, from Wired magazine, here.